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Medication and Sharps Disposal

How you dispose of your unused medications and sharps/needles can have a significant impact on the environment. In the past, many people have flushed prescription, over-the-counter, veterinary medications, and sharps/needles down their toilets or thrown them away in the garbage however; this is not the best method of disposal for these products.

When throwing away unused medications, follow these steps:

  • Keep prescriptions in their original container since caps are often childproof and bottles may contain important safety information that could be used if a child or pet accidentally ingested the medication.
  • Alter the medication to discourage others from taking it. Add water to bottles of pills and tape the lid shut. Mix liquid medicines with some salt or flour before taping the top down. Wrap foil sheets of medication in a few layers of duct tape.
  • Hide the medication before placing in your garbage bag. Don't toss the container directly into the garbage; first, put it inside another container like an empty margarine tub, yogurt cup, etc.

Why Flushing Is A Bad Idea

When you flush unused medication down your drain or toilet, it ends up at City of Fargo's Regional Water Reclamation Facility. While this facility is designed to remove many contaminants from untreated water, it may not filter out the ingredients found in many medications. These ingredients that remain in the treated water, when it is released into the Red River can harm creatures living in the river, including fish and frogs. When flushing sharps/needles down your toilet, or throwing them away in the trash, this becomes hazardous to anyone who may come in contact with them. To avoid the possibility of injury, there is a safer way of disposing sharps/needles.

Disposal Locations

Residents can dispose of medications including liquids, pills and inhalers at the front desk of the Fargo Police Department. Items can be dropped off between the hours of 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Their location is: 105 25th St. N., Fargo, ND.

Residents can dispose of sharps, needles, and syringes anytime at the Fargo Cass Public Health kiosk. The kiosk is located on the North East corner of their building. Their location is: 1240 25th St. S., Fargo, ND.

Take Back is a program to help you find disposal locations for your unused prescription medications. Take Back Programs are located in all of North Dakota's counties and at more than 225 pharmacy sites. Find a site near you. More information regarding unused medication disposal can be found on this link.

Safe Needle Disposal is a program that guides you on how to dispose of used sharps/needles. Each state has their own guidelines, so be sure to select the state you want information on. Find a site near you. More information regarding sharps/needle disposal can be found on this link.

For More Information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers information on the ways medications and personal care products may affect the environment.

The U.S. Geological Survey offers research on medications and household products in the environment.